The Paradise Trap by Catherine Jinks

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The Paradise Trap by Catherine Jinks

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A flawed but very energetic adventure, bringing all talk of 'holidays from hell' to vivid life.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: February 2012
Publisher: Quercus
ISBN: 9780857386731

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When Marcus's mum has to economise over their holidays, it means just the two of them, revisiting a campsite she herself knew as a child, in a grotty old second-hand caravan. It's a greasy, shabby, squeaky little closet of a caravan, and no-one can agree on what the awful stink pervading it reminds them of. But when the trip is hyped up as a great time for both, it seems to have a chance of coming true, for a bizarre cellar to the caravan leads everyone to their dream trip - if only, unfortunately, one way...

There were plusses and minuses about this, and I'll start with something in the middle - it seems to have quite old-fashioned ideas about adventure reads. There's something quaintly un-hip about a magical basement appearing under a caravan sofabed that doesn't seem to me to be the cutting edge. Also, some of the characters hastily assembled for the adventure are actually adult - not what we commonly get in reads of this kind for this audience. All that's in passing.

What's to the book's credit is the structure. People get parcelled off into their holiday idylls, and just as quickly get snatched back from them - we're left wondering what the other sixty per cent of the book will be. We're thrown by things like this, and the snappy chapters, generally six pages long at most, allow for lots of cliff-hanger moments.

To its demerit however is some of the writing. A lot of the description, based on things we can easily recognise, is perfectly vivid, and always energised. But at two crux points of high action I had to really slow the pace of my reading to work out quite what was happening to whom. Also, the characterisation struck me as a little mediocre. The grumpy, going-to-be-a-goth girl speaks just the same as the boys, who speak just the same as the adult who has more or less spoken to himself for thirty years.

But nothing of that is too detrimental when we're on a quite rollocking ride through the different desires and fears of the characters, and these we can all empathise with. I did however wish for some of the bumps in the rollercoaster to be evened out. A book that throws so many adult and teenage characters as a band of journeyers, plus a robot, plus connections to Greek myth, perhaps needed a smoother pass, a little bit of re-editing, before becoming as successfully dramatic as intended.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

I can compare this with titles such as The Name of this Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch in feel and scope, or perhaps the dystopian holidays of Chronosphere: Time Out of Time by Alex Woolf.

Buy The Paradise Trap by Catherine Jinks at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Paradise Trap by Catherine Jinks at

Buy The Paradise Trap by Catherine Jinks at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Paradise Trap by Catherine Jinks at


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